No change to Overnight ratings publication …for now

Seven favours holding off Overnight numbers to media -but consensus will not come easy.

Could Overnight ratings stop being published in media in order to allow networks to issue a better ‘weekly’ number?

An industry push is on, but it isn’t happening just yet as debate continues amongst the main players.

The upcoming “Total TV” VOZ ratings, encompassing all channels, screens and platforms, will finally be launched by OzTAM in June.

These will give a new perspective on how viewers are consuming content (Linear + BVOD) across TV, Tablets, Mobile and PC. The data will be in addition to current Overnight and Timeshifted results.

Seven CEO James Warburton is advocating for further change given viewing habits aren’t fully reflected with Overnight numbers.

“It’s not the full picture,” he told The Australian.

“TV viewing has fundamentally changed, and the overall audience picture is very, very different to what it is when you look at the overnight audience data.

“We are still operating on a system that puts out the smallest possible number for the industry every single day. So what I’ve proposed to the industry, and I’m working this through with all the networks, including the government broadcasters and Foxtel, is that we move to a seven-day reporting cycle.”

Executive Vice President of ViacomCBS Australia and NZ, Beverley McGarvey, told The Age Overnight ratings were “essential” but it was impossible to ignore the trend towards catch-up viewing and streaming.

“Focusing on a seven-day reporting model is more reflective and captures the true size of the live and playback television audience. It is also an important step in delivering the confidence and transparency that advertisers, marketers and sponsors require,” she said.

Nine is believed to be supportive of more comprehensive reportage but yet to comment on the proposal, or the ways to achieve a desired outcome.

OzTAM confirmed to TV Tonight it plans to continue providing Overnight reports to media.

While networks and advertisers would still see numbers each morning, Warburton’s proposal is for Overnight figures to be released by networks on special occasions -there’s no detail on what that means.

But there are also hurdles to overcome if such a plan is afoot.

It’s important for the industry that the public stays invested in Free to Air Television. Releasing data a week later (ie. If Dancing with the Stars finale numbers were being published only today) is a hard story to write when everyone has moved on….

If the conversation is thus diluted then Free to Air could lose more ground to Streaming.

News and Sport also barely shift outside of Live viewing, unlike Entertainment titles.

Getting agreement between the three owners of OzTAM -Nine, Seven & 10- is traditionally difficult. Change usually means somebody loses where billions are at stake.

In 2001 when networks moved from AC Nielsen to OzTAM media mogul Kerry Packer was furious to learn the network lost share to Seven. He even tried to get both systems to run concurrently.

At the time Dr Sue Turnbull, senior lecturer in media studies at Latrobe University told ABC Radio, “I suspect (Nine’s) not only shot itself in the foot but that there are people in the boardroom right now probably facing a minor firing squad.”

Networks have traditionally shared different views around what’s most important.

Broadly speaking, Seven has preferred Total People, Nine the 25-54 Demos and 10, viewers between 6pm to 10.30pm.

There isn’t even agreement on whether Metro is preferred over Metro +Regional. Surely a bigger priority than publication of Overnights….

Nobody is disputing Free to Air needs to find ways to put its best foot forward, but getting there is a grind.

“Hopefully we’re not far away from industry consensus,” Warburton has said.

Should networks stop issuing Overnight ratings?

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8 Responses

  1. As long as they’re comparable they are fine – everyone knows they add more later bit from an advertisers point of view the overnight figure is what really matters as those watching live have to watch the ads.

    1. Many watch the ads, some record a skip them, or pause and skip them. As long as they do it before 2am it counts in the overnights, but the minutes they FF are not.

  2. This is just an argument about rearranging deck chairs. In the past if a show got 2m viewers in the overnights it might encourage people to check it out. But these days the media don’t even report on FTA much, let alone supply ratings data. All they talk about is what is new on Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon and Disney+, for which there is little data available.

  3. All i know is a week is a loooooong time in television and i honestly prefer the overnights to see how it did. I know times have changed but still. I look at timeshifted data but not too often. Mind you there is a place for that data as it gives bubble shows a chance to continue. Its just, the AFL Grand Final for an example, people want to see how many watched the day after or the Olympic Opening Ceremony (since that is this year). Why would you want to wait a week for results like that when you can capitalise on it? I do think though that Metro+Regional/rest of Australia should be how it’s presented initially. We’re not just 5 capital cities.

  4. Seven today tells me Big Brother episode 2 jumped to 1.16m (that’s metro + regional + BVOD)…. question becomes is the public interested in that kind of data a week later or have they moved on? I’ve been posting Timeshifted figures since 2013.

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